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Jony Ive and Hiroshi Fujiwara
Jony Ive and Hiroshi Fujiwara, shot on iPhone X

Design icon Jony Ive talks to style god Hiroshi Fujiwara

The Apple designer meets the Japanese style legend in California to discuss process and how phones are more than just product

Hiroshi Fujiwara is without doubt a legend, widely regarded by many as the godfather of streetwear, the founder of cult label GOODENOUGH (GDEH), the brand that brought graphic t-shirts to Japan. In an interview with AnOther, Kim Jones said, “Hiroshi Fujiwara is an influencer in the truest sense of the word – he is a true icon of mine”. Fujiwara was a DJ in Harajuku and one of the first to bring labels such as Stüssy to Japan – his impact on the country’s sense of style cannot be understated.

Fujiwara met Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive in California to discuss the launch of Apple’s three new phones – the iPhone X, IPhone8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Ive himself is a legend, having revolutionised tech culture since joining Apple in 1992, constantly innovating and striving to create new worlds in an ever-evolving information age.

“It must be so difficult to improve these watches or phones as a product because it appears there’s nothing more you can do,” said Fujiwara. “It's already super simple and super good design.

“If you change something, you change the past and the future also. Before, you bought a mobile phone, but all you could do was use it to make a call. With the iPhone 10 years ago, you broadened the scope of how you can play around. We still call this a ‘phone’ and this is a ‘watch’. This is a phone, but I never use it just as a phone.”

Below, we publish Jony Ive discussing animoji, the impact of Steve Jobs’ words and the challenges you face as a designer, as told to Hiroshi Fujiwara. 


“The way that we began our event, with Steve’s words, I found exceptionally beautiful, particularly now at this time in the world. It’s this idea that the way that we express our gratitude and our love for humanity, is to try and make something. I’m not interested in focus groups. I’m not interested in trying to just hold a mirror to what a large group of people say they want, but I'm also obviously not just designing to keep myself happy. As a design team, we’re working to try and make something that we give to our friends, to our customers. It’s that sense of, in a way, deference that’s very important. Steve captured it perfectly. He said: ‘We may not shake their hand….but we’ve made something for humanity’. And I think that there is, for many of us, that sort of innate desire to express our gratitude to the species. This is the way that we do it. Musicians, do it by they practicing their craft. You do it through the things that you make.”


“We've been working on animoji, we’ve been working on being able to sense depth and sense three dimensions, which as you can understand, a huge challenge. It’s something that we’ve been working on for years. We’re about to find out how people use animoji. We know that there's a connection, but I’ve always loved this part, where we make a tool and then you give it to people and now we’re going to be surprised. The thing I know for sure is that, in six months' time, there will be uses of the product that we hadn't predicted. Fundamentally, I think it’s because of the creativity and tenacity of our customers.”


“I think one of the oddest challenges as a designer is that, on one hand, you’re curious and you are inquisitive and sort of light on your feet. And then on the other hand, there’s the contradiction that what you have to explore to actually make that real requires being very, very focused and very resolute, sometimes even stubborn.”


“It's hard sometimes to schedule collaboration. And one of the things that is particularly important about the new campus is it was designed to create or to increase the probability of chance meetings. And so those very precious collaborations are very often those ones which aren’t scheduled, which aren’t predictable, but they’re those critical collaborations between experts of different disciplines. If I can talk to a guy who’s focused on developing silicon chips, and I can talk to a specialist in camera optics, or I can talk to somebody who is a specialist in developing miniature transducers for miniature sound systems, you can imagine those are the conversations that yield ideas, that will create products that are as integrated as these.”


“I think that the reason that we can innovate in the way that we can here is that we're so focused and we don’t make an enormous number of products. It’s the depth. We have an appetite and we have lots of ideas to make many more products than we do. And one of the most difficult parts of our job is to decide which ones we're going to focus on. And then that means saying no and not developing a lot of things that we might still find interesting and compelling.”